Thomas L. Winters

My Grandmother’s Tattoo

Her tattoo says she hates herself
but loves her soul to death,

says she was raised on religion
but found other drugs more powerful—

Communism Crenshaw crushed dreams;
the crushed chin her father gave her.

Her tattoo (if you look close enough)
says her father tried to rape her.

Says she’d rather keep the memory
and suffuse his power in her scars.

She vomits out the love she eats
between her seedless bagels beet borscht soup

disgorging all through words teethed—
her very own scrabble puzzle,

her very own heroin to reject inject—
an endorphin-driven cycle slowed in ink.

She cherishes the pain of the needle;
forgets her past as it croons to her flesh:

its whirring like a purring elephant
lest her arms rain life on ceramic earth.


Thomas L. Winters is a writer from Ontario currently developing a chapbook of dark, surrealist poetry. After dropping out of university he struggled with finding a fulfilling path on which to excel creatively, but has since devoted himself to writing the stories and poems that he once only ruminated on. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Grotesque Quarterly, OCCULUM, Figroot Press, The Sandy River Review, and Corvus Review.